RTI bill to be laid before House today

Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu.

Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu.

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has given an indication that the much talked about Right to Information (RTI) Bill will be laid in Parliament before the House goes on recess today.

 

“The RTI is coming [to Parliament] but because of the volume of work and it not being gazetted as it stands now, if it is introduced, the import of it will be for the Committee [on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs] to sit on it during the holidays,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu told journalists in Parliament in Accra yesterday.

 

According to him, the House will be expecting the Committee’s report on the bill when it returns from recess in mid May from where the amendments will commence.

 

His comments comes on the heel of an announcement by the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, at the opening session of the Norway-Ghana Business and Investment Forum in Accra on Monday, that Cabinet had approved the revised RTI.

 

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo earlier at the 61st Independence Anniversary parade in Accra assured that the bill will be passed before the House adjourns but that seems impossible.

 

The Majority Leader who doubles as the lawmaker for Suame said the bill is of enormous importance and could not be passed under a certificate of urgency “that is why it is being introduced now for the committee to take it home during the recess and do the necessary consultation to report back to us in mid May.”

 

He was optimistic that before the House adjourns again in July, the bill would have been “dealt with,” adding that “into the next meeting certainly the bill will be passed.”

 

The Suame MP said though the bill was yet to be passed, there were issues about how and where one gets information and what information is permissible to be divulged.

 

In as much as the bill, if passed would enhance transparency in public office, the Majority Leader said “we need to be very clear in our minds what information should be given to the people of this country otherwise it will derail the entire access that we want to grant to citizens looking for information.”

 

There is a new wave of demand for the passage of the bill after hopes were dashed when the previous Parliament failed to pass it.

 

The new demand was ignited after the assurance by the President at the independence parade.

 

The RTI, drafted in 1999, reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007, first came to Parliament in 2010 but could not be passed during the life of that Parliament, the fifth of the fourth republic.

 

It was again introduced in the sixth Parliament between January 2013 and January 2017 though some amendments were done to it but failed to be passed.

 

 

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